Macau Gaming-Related Crime on the Rise Once More

Macau's Judiciary Police (PJ) reported on July 5 a significant rise in gaming-related crimes, recording a total of 579 cases between January and May 2024. This marks a 75.5% increase compared to the same period last year.

The Wynn Macau casino resort in Macau at night. (Source: Associated Press)

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The surge in criminal activities coincides with a notable increase in visitors to the Chinese special administrative region (SAR) and a rise in gambling revenue. Among the reported crimes, gaming-related fraud cases saw a pronounced increase, rising by 52 cases to a total of 130. The PJ highlighted that 66.7% of these fraud cases were intricately linked to money exchange gangs, underscoring a persistent issue within Macau's gambling sector. These gangs typically operate by luring gamblers with promises of favorable exchange rates, only to deceive them in various fraudulent schemes.

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From January to May, the PJ, in collaboration with the Public Security Police, intercepted 1,924 members of money exchange gangs. Out of these, 927 individuals were referred to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ, for its Portuguese acronym) to be included in the prohibited casinos list, a measure aimed at curbing their influence and operations within the casinos. The authorities have also identified and notified 30 Macau residents for their involvement in illegal money exchanges, initiating administrative penalty procedures against them.

Despite the spike in gaming-related crimes, the PJ emphasized that serious crimes in the SAR have remained low, maintaining a trend of low occurrence. The overall social security situation remains stable, with law enforcement agencies continuing their efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and visitors alike. However, the rise in crimes associated with the gaming and tourism industries presents a growing challenge that necessitates ongoing vigilance and strategic enforcement actions.

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Increased Gambling, Increased Crime

The increase in fraudulent activities and information crimes reflects broader trends observed in regions heavily reliant on tourism and gambling. As Macau's economy rebounds with increased visitation and gambling revenue, it also faces the unintended consequence of attracting criminal elements seeking to exploit the influx of money and visitors. This dynamic requires a multifaceted approach from law enforcement and regulatory bodies to address and mitigate the risks associated with such crimes.

In response to the rising trend of gaming-related crimes, the PJ has been intensifying its efforts to combat these issues through coordinated operations and enhanced surveillance. The interception of a significant number of money exchange gang members demonstrates a proactive stance in tackling the problem. Moreover, the collaboration between different law enforcement and regulatory agencies, such as the Public Security Police and the DICJ, is crucial in creating a comprehensive strategy to deter and prevent criminal activities.

The PJ's data indicates a need for continued and heightened measures to address the evolving landscape of gaming-related crimes. Additionally, enhancing technological capabilities to monitor and detect suspicious activities in real-time could further bolster efforts to maintain security and integrity within Macau's gaming sector.


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